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Success Story Interview - Josh Hlibichuk

An Interview with Josh Hlibichuk (qrevolution on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Caitie Flum of Liza Dawson Associates.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Josh Hlibichuk:
My manuscript is a YA fantasy about a young woman who joins up with a group of con artists; some elements are reminiscent of Leverage or The Lies of Locke Lamora. I've always enjoyed any story about a good heist or con, and this was the kind of story I hadn't tried writing yet.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Josh Hlibichuk:
I wrote my first novel in the 7th grade, but I've been writing with an eye toward eventual publication for the past eight years.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Josh Hlibichuk:
This book has been in the works since March 2014. I didn't finish it all in one go. Instead I took the "stop and start again" approach while life happened around my writing schedule. I finisihed the first draft in August 2014 and went right into edits! I finally signed with an agent in December of 2015, and I'm still working on it.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Josh Hlibichuk:
Absolutely. Several times. Writing a book requires so much of yourself and your own personal DNA that it's hard to not want to give up after repeated setbacks. The only thing to do is to want it enough to try harder. You've only truly failed if you quit. Otherwise, publishing is the kind of business where you dust yourself off and keep going. Lean on family and friends for support, but keep going.
QT: Is this your first book?
Josh Hlibichuk:
This is the third manuscript I've polished up for querying, after a YA steampunk and a different YA fantasy. Overall I've finished eight manuscripts--some of which will never see the light of day again.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Josh Hlibichuk:
I got an English minor in college while I studied computer science. Talking about things like theme and structure with other like-minded people will never get old!
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Josh Hlibichuk:
I write every day in November for NaNoWriMo, but the rest of the year I can't. I stay flexible with myself and work in chunks of time late at night and on weekends. Everybody needs a break, and when writing feels like a second job, it can be difficult to spend every waking moment at work. I fill in my recharge time with friends, family, and board games to fill the well.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Josh Hlibichuk:
We're currently on my 7th draft, of which I've done multiple passes through. So, depending on your perspective, 7-10 times, at least. It's never gotten a full rewrite, but this time around every single page has seen something change.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Josh Hlibichuk:
My wife is my "alpha reader," and from there I am lucky enough to have a couple of fellow writers who share manuscripts with one another for feedback. Their input and support has been invaluable throughout the entire process!
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Josh Hlibichuk:
Both. I like having a roadmap, but I'm not afraid to take a few detours. I start out with a few scenes I want to include in the book, and I outline a thin path that will take me from scene A to scene B to the end. Throughout the drafting process, if I stumnble upon an idea that works even better, I run with it and revise the outline.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Josh Hlibichuk:
I sent my very first query in October 2012, and I've been querying about one book per year ever since. I started querying this book in the summer of 2015.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Josh Hlibichuk:
I sent nearly about 17 query letters, but I also entered several pitch contests. (I queried very slowly.) I got 3 requests from queries and 6 requests from contests. Ultimately I met my agent on social media, but at the time she was closed to my genre; when she opened to SFF queries, she offered to review my query and provide feedback. That turned into a full request, and THAT turned into an offer of rep!
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Josh Hlibichuk:
I did on a few occasions, if the agent had a relevant MSWL request or I knew something about their tastes. I did not try to go out of my way to personalize every query, but if there was something organic and interesting to add, I included it.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Josh Hlibichuk:
Whatever happens, write another book.

Query Letter:

Seventeen-year-old Novi is a grifter with a talent for illusions, but her rent is past due. When an important job goes sideways, her only hope to stay in town lies with Lukas, a con man who can see through her magical disguises. He needs an illusionist for a lucrative (and dangerous) deception; desperate for work, Novi agrees to help.

The mark is a ruthless financier who deserves what’s coming to him, but Novi hits a snag once the con’s in motion. She discovers that the young man she’s been flirting with is the mark’s son, and his lonely sister could be her new best friend.

If she goes through with the plan, she'll ruin an innocent family. And if she doesn't? Novi will have betrayed the crew that’s come to depend on her. It's up to Novi to architect and execute her own con if she stands any chance of saving everyone she cares about.

It’ll take a few lies, a little truth, and a whole lot of illusion.

THE VIOLETS OF TAVAREM is a YA fantasy conceptualized as Leverage with magic, and it is complete at 86,000 words.

Thank you for your interest, and I look forward to hearing from you!